The final version of Missouri Juvenile Standards were presented Tuesday by members of the Juvenile Officer’s Association. Among the recommendations were implementing a code of ethics for juvenile officers, audits of officers, and general practice standards.
Backers hope new standards would avoid a federal challenge of how Missouri handles juvenile cases, which is not the same in all counties. The Department of Justice could also challenge the authority of Missouri circuit court judges to hire, fire and oversee chief juvenile officers in their circuits.
Chief Juvenile Officer Beverly Newman helped draft the recommendations and thinks all necessary standards were addressed.
“This was really our opportunity to take a critical look at what we are doing across the system. We have had conversations with stakeholders and critics to make sure we missed nothing,” said Newman.
Newman believes officers should be audited.
“We should be held accountable for carrying out, not only the code of ethics but the standards to which we are recommending,” said Newman.
The recommendations were shared Tuesday with the Legislature’s Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.
Senator Rob Schaaf (R-St. Joseph) asked how the recommendations would be enforced.
“If you are going to create a code of conduct or a code of ethics and standards, it doesn’t do a bit of good unless there’s an entity that oversees that and makes sure that it’s enforced,” said Schaaf. “So, I’m just saying if you don’t have that in place it’s like a total waste of effort.”
Newman said the audits, found in the final proposal, offer enforcement.
A court-appointed committee and the Missouri Supreme Court will decide whether the recommendations will be adopted.